June 14, 2008

Let Interior-Design Dreams Run Wild With New DIY Software

Trying out all your design ideas isn't feasible in the real world. So why not try them in the virtual world?

House Beautiful Home Design Suite software covers home design, interiors and landscape. Featuring user-friendly wizards and drag- and-drop design-tool options, the software allows you to take on projects from interior design to room additions and remodeling. You can design walls, window treatments, floors, furniture and lighting and see your masterpieces in 3-D and dollhouse views.

Don't like the wall color? It can be changed using one-click decorator palettes that allow you to add a skylight or a bay window.

Using the cabinet wizard for your kitchen and bath, you can customize cabinets and add appliances. Add finishing touches by selecting fixtures and custom finishes with marble, granite, slate and more. You can choose brand-name materials, paint, art and window treatments.

Other tools include: room and roofing wizards; foundation, electrical, plumbing, heating, ventilation and cooling planners; and an automatic growth tool, which allows you to visualize an aged version of your landscape.

And if you decide that your virtual design is worthy of becoming reality, a home-estimator tool helps you calculate remodeling costs and materials.

The software is available at Best Buy, Sam's Club and Amazon.com. Cost ranges from $69.99 to $89.99.


Once you realize that by helping the environment you're really helping yourself, the rest is a matter of commitment.

Launched a year ago, the Home Depot Eco Options program is a classification that among other things helps consumers identify energy-efficient products at HomeDepot.com/ecooptions.

The site lists products with the Eco Options label that certifies they contribute to sustainable forestry, energy efficiency, water conservation, clean air and/or a healthy home. Product information, availability and SKU numbers are listed.

You can find online clinics, videos, green-project guides and a home-efficiency audit that is broken down into five categories including heating and cooling, water, lighting and major appliances. Another tool is the Eco Options virtual home tour, featuring a home constructed by Eco Options green standards.


Would it surprise you to hear that your home is loaded with danger zones? It is, according to Health magazine. This month's issue identifies toxic areas in your home and offers solutions for detoxing them.

Here are a few:

Your child's toy box: The main threat here is lead-coated toys. In the past two years, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued 21 recalls of lead-tainted toys.

Your closet: Mothballs are extremely dangerous chemicals; the vapors are carcinogenic and irritating to the nervous system. Your clothes swathed in dry-cleaning bags also harbor harmful chemicals.

Your bed: Most conventional mattresses contain brominated flame retardants . Mattresses also might contain formaldehyde, a probable carcinogen, and benzene, a known carcinogen.

- from wire reports

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